AtC: Finding the Fun of Being a Fan

Photo by Pat Radigan

No, this isn’t a Superman pose, it’s just part of what makes swimming so much fun.

By Pat Radigan

When I started Corn Fed Sports, I held no punches in my goal with this project: I wanted to try and reinvent how our society views and consumes sports media.

To be honest, it was way too much to try and chew with my first bite, but it didn’t stop me from trying.

It’s hard to explain the why, but if you were able to see behind the scenes of the boys club that is the sports media, you’d understand why I felt motivated to act. Especially when it came to Olympic and women’s sports. There was just something about seeing broadcasters show up for a few minutes of highlights and then skipping postgame, or the helicopter print reporters who would only show up when a player or a team had done something noteworthy.

It all feels disingenuous, and it’s easy to see how big box media corporations have galvanized the sports media world with blog networks and microsites.

The mistake I made in trying to fit in was focusing on the problem, and what not to do. I was drinking the same Koolaid as Alex Mather, the co-founder of a new subscription sports service called The Atlantic. Mather told the New York Times that he wanted to wait and let the sports staff at local newspapers “bleed” until they were the only source left.

Mather said he wanted to “suck them dry of their best talent at every moment,” and make it “extremely difficult” for them to do good business.

In that moment, it felt like I was looking in a mirror of horribly calculated statements and tweets. Like I did in my early years with CFS, a lot, Mather backtracked his statements when they were published, and apologized. But the arrogance and brash confidence of the “bleed them till they are gone” method is still apparent in the structure of the subscription service.

And that could not be further from what I’m trying to accomplish.

I started Corn Fed Sports because I love sports. Playing sports was the only thing that made me feel like I fit in when I was younger, and covering sports, even the ‘obscure’ ones, has never felt like a job for me. I was raised by a dad that made sure I appreciated the “pageantry” of every game and event I ever went to.

At a place like Nebraska, it’s easy to enjoy all the little details. Especially the Devaney Natatorium.

But first, there’s this…

On The
Road
Again

Not a lot happening in Lincoln this weekend, but it’s still going to be a gamechanger. For us at least.


What’s Going On

Football

Nebraska AT
Purdue

10/28/17 | 6:30 p.m.

West Lafayette, Ind.

Volleyball

No. 7 Nebraska vs.
No. 10 Michigan St

10/27/17 | 7 p.m.

East Lansing, Mich.

No. 7 Nebraska vs.
Michigan

10/29/17 | 12 p.m.

Ann Arbor, Mich.

Wrestling

Instrasquad
Wrestle-Offs

10/27/17 | 6 p.m.

Devaney Center

Cross Country

Nebraska vs.
Memphis
and TCU

10/29/17 | 8 a.m.

Bloomington, Ind.

Rifle

Nebraska vs.
Memphis
and TCU

10/28/17 | 8 a.m.

Fort Worth, Texas.

Nebraska vs.
Memphis

10/29/17 | 8 a.m.

Fort Worth, Texas

Bowling

Brunswick
Bearcat Open

10/27/17 & 10/28/17

Fairview Heights, Ill.

(Home Field) Climate Change

All props to this one goes to Nebraska sports information director Connor Stange on this one, but after it was brought to my attention, I had to look into it.

With the 64 degree temperature at kickoff of Wednesday night’s Senior Night against Minnesota, Nebraska finished the year with an average game-time temp of 78 degrees. If that number seems high, it is. In fact, it’s almost five degrees warmer than any other year in the last five years.

And here’s the kicker: With the move to Hibner Stadium for the 2015 season, Nebraska started playing night games.

Check out the chart for proof, but for some reason it seems like everything is getting warmer. Since this is a red state, I can feign ignorance and get away with it. But maybe someone should tell Al Gore that he should start data mining box scores.

Bunts, Bowlin and Bears

OK, so maybe there won’t actually be any Bears mentioned in this one, but the Huskers did play some Grizzlies in softball yesterday.

Nebraska “mauled” Butler Community College 14-2 in its final fall exhibition matchup, which finally ended the longest fall exhibition schedule in recent memory. And while you won’t find any pictures or content from the fall season on our site (yet), I still went to every game I could.

I’ll let you in on the secret: Softball is a lot of fun.

Even in blowout exhibition wins, it’s still a level of play and competition that is easy to enjoy. Yes, there are too many walks, and errors you wouldn’t normally see come the spring season. The fact Nebraska even played a community college is something that’s not possible during the spring.

And while it’s easy to discount the fall season for that reason, I think it goes the opposite way.

When I rolled up to the ballpark last night, I couldn’t help but stop and snap a picture of Butler CC’s team bus. It’s not a semi, or even a full size personalized bus. But it’s their bus, and I bet whichever Butler squad uses it on a given weekend has a lot of fun on that bus.

The actual game was more enjoyable than the score reflected, too. Nebraska’s offense, and new-look defensive lineup was on full display, and provided a good glimpse of what this year could look like for the Huskers. Even with the wind, there were catches and plays made in the outfield that impressed the home fans.

Then there are the little things, the nuggets for the “true” sports fans. When Bree Boruff stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 6th inning, she laid down a bunt that looked almost unfair with her speed. On the first good pitch she saw, Boruff swiped second to move into scoring position. It was like she was playing Ken Griffey Baseball on Nintendo 64.

Boruff scored with ease on a double by Laura Barrow, but I was selfishly hoping it’d be a hard hit single to left. I have no doubt that Boruff would have still scored, but it would’ve been fun to see just how quickly she could’ve made it happen.

That’s the beauty of spectator sports. It’s not just what happens, it’s enjoying how it all goes down.

Your Featured Presentation…

Just Watch Swimming

Why you should plan a trip to the Devaney Natatorium

As I mentioned above, I started CFS because I wanted to take a new angle on how sports were covered. And no program at Nebraska opened my eyes as quickly as the Husker swim team.

In the early years of covering the team, Nebraska set a program record for wins. And it wasn’t an accident. It was a result of a program looking to take the next step and literally make a splash in its new conference.

It didn’t take long to get hooked on those trips to the #DevaneyNat.

Last year, as I worked on revamping CFS and lived in Lincoln on a part-time basis, I didn’t make it a single meet. And it wasn’t until I made it back that I realized how much I missed it.

I’ve already used this joke once, but here’s a similar secret: Swimming and diving is fun.

It starts with a relay showcasing the different strokes and skills involved. If you think it’s fun to watch Olympic relays, I promised you’ll enjoy seeing all the transitions and teamwork up close and in person.

Then it moves to the 1000-yard freestyle. On the surface, a 10-minute swim race doesn’t seem all that thrilling, but the more you think about it the more your head spins. There aren’t many events and sports that could be considered life threatening, but if you told me to finish the 1000 free, there’s more of a chance I’d drown halfway through than any hope I’d ever be able to finish.

But as the race wears on, the swimmers keep pushing. The coaches dance up and down as they demonstratively pass on instructions and shout encouragement each time the swimmers come up for breath.

And that’s only a small part of it.

I won’t spoil the rest of the show, but next time it comes to town, I’d suggest paying a visit to a part of the Devaney Center you probably never even knew existed. Before you know it, you’ll be screaming along with the rest of the crowd during the mad dash that is the 50-yard freestyle.
Swimming is fun. Softball is fun. Sports are fun.

Not just something for people to scream about on Twitter.

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